Created by the independent Danish newspaper Politiken, the Freedom prize is awarded every year to organisations or individuals who defend human rights in dangerous circumstances.
“The fate of the university reminds us that we should never accept the restriction of academic freedom”
Through its foundation, the newspaper presented winners with a prize of 100.000 Danish Kroner to the winners, which were cited for their contribution to “protecting scholars and the freedom to think, question and share ideas,” a CEU press release read.
Accepting the prize, SAR’s executive director Robert Quinn said the Freedom Prize is an incentive to do more to address what he called a “crisis.” Composed by an international network of institutions and individuals, SAR’s mission is to protect scholars and academic freedom.
“Around the world, scholars, students, and their institutions are facing an alarming crisis of attacks on their right to ask difficult questions and test ideas,” Quinn said.
“The Freedom Prize pushes us as a network to do more to address this crisis by helping more scholars find sanctuary, raising global awareness, and engaging government and higher education leaders to safeguard academic freedom.”
Attacks on academic freedom are also one of the reasons behind CEU’s long clash with the Hungarian government.
The institution has been fighting to stay in Hungary for the past two years, after government legislation allegedly targeted at the institution made its operations in the country difficult to continue.
After failing to secure an agreement with the Hungarian government last December, it announced it will move its campus to Vienna for the 2019 cohort of students.
Politiken editor-in-chief Christian Jensen nodded to CEU’s situation when he presented the prize.
“It shouldn’t be necessary to remind a government to appreciate the role of opposition, civil society, media and free academic thinking. But Central European University does indeed remind us of the values of an open society,” he said, according to CEU’s statement.
“And the fate of the university reminds us that we should never accept the restriction of academic freedom.”